Saint NameZechariah, father of John the Baptist : S00597
Zechariah, Old Testament Prophet : S00283
Saint Name in SourceΖαχαρίας
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Funerary inscriptions
Evidence not before500
Evidence not after600
Activity not before500
Activity not after600
Place of Evidence - RegionAsia Minor
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcAdana
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Adana
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
SourceA limestone plaque of unknown provenance, kept in the Museum of Adana (ancient Antiochia ad Sarum). H. 0.23 m; W. 0.227 m; Th. 0.05 m; letter height 0.045 m.
DiscussionThe inscription is almost certainly the label of a tomb owned by a church dedicated to Saint Zechariah or by a person or an institution affiliated to this church. This Zechariah is probably the father of John the Baptist, identified by an early Christian tradition with an innocent priest murdered at the Temple in Jerusalem (see Matthew 23,35), or, possibly, the Old Testament prophet.
Line 2 contains two abbreviated words and is actually crucial for understanding the whole text. The interpretation of the meaning of these abbreviations poses, however, serious problems. Gilbert Dagron and Denis Feissel proposed the following explanation. The phrase τ\ο/( ) σχ\ο/( ) can be read either as τό(πος) σχο(λῆς) or το(ῦ) σχο(λείου), which they understand as a reference to a tomb owned by a school (schole) attached to a church of St. Zechariah or a district called after the saint. However, the editors of SEG opt for another possibility. Basically, the words σχολή and σχολεῖον mean 'school', but they could be also associated with burial areas, perhaps as places of eternal leisure, which goes back to the etymological meaning of these words. For a description of a σχολεῖον with πυρίαι ('tomb-chambers') and ὀστοθῆκαι ('ossuaries', 'sarcophagi'), see an inscription from the Ayasoluk hill near Ephesos: SEG 4, 543 (cf. also: LSJ, s.v. σχολεῖον). Therefore, our inscription can be hypothetically translated: '+ The memorial of the burial place (of the church) of Saint Zechariah'.
Dating: 6th c. (based on the style of lettering and contents).
I. Cilicia - Dagron, G., Feissel, D. (eds.), Inscriptions de Cilicie (Paris: De Boccard, 1987), no. 60.
Mietke, G., "Monumentalisierung christilcher Heiliger in Kilikien in frühbyzantinischer Zeit", Olba 17 (2009), 121.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 37, 1364.